A foundation (also a charitable foundation) is a category of nonprofit organization or charitable trust that typically provides funding and support for other charitable organizations through grants, but may also engage directly in charitable activities. Foundations include public charitable foundations, such as community foundations, and private foundation, which are typically endowed by an individual or family. However, the term "foundation" may also be used by organizations that are not involved in public grantmaking.
The term "foundation," in general, is used to describe a distinct legal entity. Foundations as legal structures (legal entities) and/or legal persons (legal personality), may have a diversity of forms and may follow diverse regulations depending on the jurisdiction where they are created. Foundations are often set up for charitable purposes, family patrimony and collective purposes.
In some jurisdictions, a foundation may acquire its legal personality when it is entered in a public registry, while in other countries a foundation may acquire legal personality by the mere action of creation through a required document. Unlike a company, foundations have no shareholders, though they may have a board, an assembly and voting members. A foundation may hold assets in its own name for the purposes set out in its constitutive documents, and its administration and operation are carried out in accordance with its statutes or articles of association rather than fiduciary principles. The foundation has a distinct patrimony independent of its founder.